Why You Should Care About Fall Prevention
Falls are extremely common and risky for a number of reasons. First, one out of every four adults in the U.S. experiences a fall every year. That amounts to 32,000 deaths and 3 million visits to the emergency room!
The consequences of falling range from mild to severe — hip fractures, head trauma, or broken bones.
As we age, we’ll naturally experience a decline in strength, balance, and perception. That can make falling dangerous, especially if you are isolated or living alone.
And without quick assistance, a mild fall could end in injury or even death. Here are a few tips to keep yourself safe, mobile, and independent.
Safeguard Your Home
Start by ensuring your living space is as open and as clutter-free as possible. Big, bulky furniture can be a tripping hazard. As a rule of thumb, if it hasn’t been used in the past ten years, it can get tossed.
Second, install adequate lighting throughout hallways, stairwells, and porches. During the nighttime, these small spaces can be a pain to navigate.
Also, make sure your floor surfaces have enough grip. Hardwood looks great, but carpet is so much softer to land on! Avoid small, slippery throw rugs, and put sturdy, textured mats on tile surfaces in your kitchen and bathroom.
Finally, consider installing grab bars and handrails for extra support. It may seem excessive, but consider how it would feel to fall down in the shower or onto a hard kitchen floor.
Our proprioception, or skill at controlling our body’s positioning, declines as we age. That means we need to make extra effort to keep our motor skills and balance up.
Chair exercises are excellent for your thigh muscles while taking regular walks, riding a bike, swimming, yoga, and other cardio activities can help strengthen your legs and lower body. Heel raises, leg stands, alternating lunges, and hamstring curls can also boost your balance.
Look into even more exercises to boost your strength and flexibility. Yoga can also help improve balance; Shasta Ortho now offers yoga classes.
Whenever you begin an exercise plan, make sure you are checking in with your optometrist, physician, and physical therapist.
Maintain Balanced Habits
Keep in mind that changes in your routine may affect your medications, sensitivity to prescriptions, and more. It’s a good idea to avoid excessive drinking, recreational drug use, and other activities that can alter your physical state and cognition.
Here are a few more tips to avoid the shock of a sudden fall:
- Avoid tobacco, caffeine, and other stimulants that can result in dizziness and disorientation
- Limit screen time on your phone and other mobile devices to avoid disrupting your natural circadian rhythm
- Get a good night’s sleep and avoid heavy meals to keep from feeling drowsy
Ask an Expert
The question is not if you’ll experience a fall, but when. Always communicate with your doctor if you’ve experienced a fall, and don’t be afraid of reaching out to family members or your caregiver for assistance.